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Keynote speaker, Dr Richard Bickerton, Chief Systems Scientist at Exscientia, an artificial intelligence (AI)-driven global precision medicine company, highlighted how AI can be utilised for good, stating:
It’s all about having the skills to extract value out of the data. AI can help identify new ways to target diseases, identify which drugs will work best for individual patients and even design new drug molecules – all of which reduces failure and yields better outcomes for patients. However, we need more people to be trained in these skills to fill the opportunities that are increasing everywhere.
Themes arising from the night included recognition of the need for continuing professional development for anyone working in the field to keep up with technological advancements and to make the most of the possibilities AI provides. Careers in data and AI also need to be promoted within schools to ensure that it is not a minority entering the industry at university level.
The importance of having an interdisciplinary approach was highlighted as well which, according to one speaker, was because “the best innovations happen through seemingly disparate teams coming together”. This was a shared view amongst speakers and attendees.
Delegates at the event included Nidhin Chand, Managing Director at Guru for Scots and Vedics who helped organise the event. Also in attendance were representatives of professional bodies and industry.
A number of universities from across Scotland attended including from the Russell Group who discussed the need for upskilling the population from the grass roots up to ensure an inclusive approach to digitalisation that avoids bias. Key to success will be enabling everyone to embrace a digital future.
Opening the event, co-host Michelle Thomson MSP stated the importance of a structured career path for everyone as digitalisation will touch the majority of industries in the future. Continuing, she added:
As people find themselves working in increasingly digitised work places, the likes of the IoA Analyst Competency Framework can help identify staged support and entry points regardless of education or experience.
Also on the programme was Tom Joseph, Director of International Skills Development Corporation (ISDC), a global higher education provider, who discussed ISDC’s goal of making education accessible wherever you are in the world. He revealed that a recent survey found that “40% of companies say they use data in decision making and 60% in ‘key’ decision making” and talked about the importance of making education relevant which is why ISDC works closely with professional bodies such as the IoA to develop its curricula.
Rounding out the evening, the IoA’s Director of Education, Dr Clare Walsh, said:
The IoA empowers everyone – from those who are data curious to those seeking a mid-life career change as well as highly qualified data scientists wanting to stay ahead in this fast-paced world. Data applies to every aspect of our lives and can make the world a better place for all of us.
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